Album Review: Daniel Caesar Matures On ‘Never Enough’

Joe Simpson

By Joe Simpson

Joe Simpson

14 Apr 2023

Last week, Daniel Caesar returned with his third studio album, ‘Never Enough’. The Canadian rose to prominence thanks to his debut album, ‘Freudian’, which showed off his incredible vocal range as well as his ability as a songwriter, constructing expertly crafted love songs and delving deeper into the pitfalls of himself and his relationships. This was then followed by ‘Case Study 01’ in 2019 – a more experimental project that had some outstanding moments but overall lacked the cohesion and serenity of his first output. 

Since then, Caesar found himself in the midst of controversy following his defence of social media influencer YesJulz in 2019, embroiling himself in a dispute where he challenged the Black community to ‘cancel’ him. After a four year hiatus and in the build up to his album release, the artist apologised for his comments, saying, “after taking time to get over myself and to really honestly look at myself and everything that was happening, I was wrong. I was wrong, and I’m sorry about that.” This newfound responsibility and maturity shines through on ‘Never Enough’, as Caesar combines the smooth, heartfelt features of ‘Freudian’ with his more unorthodox approach on ‘Case Study 01’, creating his most well-rounded project to date.

The album gets off to a brilliant start with the opener, ‘Ocho Rios’. The woozy guitar riffs match up excellently with Caesar’s vocal performance, which starts off with his signature falsetto before being manipulated to a lower octave on the second verse. This is followed by ‘Valentina’, a more uptempo track thanks to the percussive elements of the instrumental, making it one of the highlights of the project. The opening two tracks serve as a microcosm for the rest of the album, as Caesar plays to his strengths with his vocal performances whilst also experimenting with a variety of sounds under the Neo-Soul and R&B umbrella. 

The artist however does not stray too far away from his winning formula, as the R&B ballads on ‘Never Enough’ are some of his best songs to date. Caesar’s vulnerability through both his voice and lyricism shine through across the project, as he battles his insecurities on tracks like ‘Do You Like Me?’ and ‘Let Me Go’. There is also a harking back to the days before the fame on the nostalgic ‘Toronto 2014’, which is perhaps unsurprising given the self-inflicted turmoil the artist has found himself in since the release of his last album. The artist is most in his element on ‘Always’, a heart-wrenching song that describes the pain of moving on from a relationship despite love still being present. 

At 15 tracks, ‘Never Enough’ gives Caesar enough room to explore a variety of soundscapes and in turn collaborate with different artists. ‘Shot My Baby’ is one of the more ambitious moments on the project, as the Blues-tinged instrumental backs up the conceptual storytelling of the artist taking matters into his own hands after seeing his girl with another man. There are also influences from Reggae in the final track, ‘Unstoppable’ which acts as an excellent culmination to the album. Elsewhere, his use of featured artists works well to break up the album, injecting a new energy that juxtaposes the tranquillity of Caesar’s solo offerings. The tracks with Ty Dolla $ign (Homiesexual), and serpentwithfeet (Disillusioned) in particular are two of the most outstanding songs on the tape.

This LP thus marks a return to form for Caesar, as he continues to grow and learn both as a person and artist. There has never been any doubting the artist’s talents as a musician, as his vocal range is something to behold on almost every track he creates. Lyrically, ‘Never Enough’ feels vulnerable and introspective, whilst musically the artist has found the right balance between playing to his strengths and attempting to branch out into different sonic environments. The lengthy tracklist does however mean that there are a few weaker songs across the album, but nevertheless, it does feel as if Daniel Caesar has reinstated himself as a true leader of the R&B genre.

Star Rating: 4/5